Issue Briefs2018-05-29T15:37:55+00:00

Issue Briefs

Every year, the Lewis Center produces research and writing on some of the most crucial issues facing Southern California — from regional economies to housing affordability to traffic congestion. Our staff and associated scholars are happy to serve as contacts to help the media report more thoroughly on these issues.

Issue briefs are short “explainers” of what is known about particular planning and policy questions. Briefs are prepared by our staff, graduate students, and associated scholars, and are vetted internally. Some briefs include policy recommendations while others simply provide background information. 

Federal Housing Assistance in Los Angeles County is Primarily for High-Income Neighborhoods

The federal government provides much more housing assistance to well-off households, in the form of the Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID), than it does for low-income households through programs such as vouchers and tax credits. In this brief, we scrutinize how much federal housing assistance is coming into LA County, where it is going, and what the gap between the MID and subsidies for affordable housing really looks like.

Is Los Angeles Destroying Its Affordable Housing Stock to Build Luxury Apartments?

Los Angeles has a severe shortage of affordable housing, and newly-constructed housing is typically more expensive to rent or buy than older multifamily units nearby. Many fear that, because LA is short on vacant parcels zoned for multifamily homes, these older, more affordable units will inevitably be demolished to make way for new, more expensive housing. In this brief, we investigate whether or not this is occurring and what the answer means for the city’s response to the housing crisis.

How Proposition U Restrains Los Angeles Housing Development

Proposition U, approved by LA voters in 1986, permanently and dramatically decreased the amount of permitted development based on lot size, significantly contributed to the city’s notoriously low-slung urban form, and curtailed the potential of its commercial corridors. In this brief, we examine how the measure prevents the development of thousands of new infill housing units on top of retail that could create transit-oriented, mixed-use communities in a way that protects the equity and stability of surrounding neighborhoods. 

Overcoming Opposition to New Housing

Proposals for new housing development often meet significant resistance from those that benefit most from its scarcity, homeowners and landlords, while too few advocate for upending the existing pattern of zoning and increasing construction in neighborhoods of opportunity. In this brief, we explain how opponents of new housing use California’s planning and political systems to their advantage, and offer recommendations for reforms that help increase housing supply and reduce the unequal spatial distribution of new development.

Measure S 

While there is no shortage of debate on Measure S, the public dialogue has been relatively uninformed about the likely consequences of the Measure, in part due to difficulties in working with the various data sources on permitting and housing construction in Los Angeles. In this brief, our best assessment of the available research and data leads us to conclude that if the Measure passes, rents and property costs in the Los Angeles region are likely to rise even faster than they are already.

Residential Preference Policies

Neighborhood residential preference policies attempt to curb residential displacement by setting aside units in new developments for people who live in the immediate area. Many people and agencies that these policies are in conflict and violation of the Fair Housing Act as they limit access to new residential units. In this brief, we explain the delicate balance between open access to housing and gentrification concerns with examples from San Francisco, New York City and Los Angeles. 


For the Press

These pieces are designed to give reporters a brief, concise overview of the major issues we cover: How to frame Southern California’s problems, what the state of current research is, and how those problems could be solved.